This Week at the Pete: Second Half Runs Key Pitt Wins

Paul SieversAnalyst IJanuary 25, 2009

"This Week at the Pete" is a weekly column that takes a look at all things Pitt basketball. Your comments are more than welcome, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it.

Ladies and Gentleman (who are we kidding, women don’t read this trash), this Pitt team is special. At TWATP we’re not going to look ahead to March or talk Final Four just yet, a lot can happen between now and then. But right now, the Pitt Panthers are playing poetic basketball and no matter what happens, it has been a treat to watch them to this point. Let’s get to the recap.


The Week That Was...


1/19 - def. Syracuse 78-60

The Good:

Well, just about everything went in Pitt’s favor Monday night. The biggest positive was the way the Panthers responded after a tough loss just two nights earlier. Credit the home crowd for really getting behind their team, making it nearly impossible for the Panthers to play without energy.

Pitt did what they always do to teams built around speed, they bullied the Orange. DeJuan Blair physically dominated Arinze Onuaku and set the tone for the rest of the team. Jermaine Dixon frustrated Jonny Flynn all night, holding the super soph to 3 of 14 shooting.

The game ball however goes to Sam Young who ignited the Pitt offense. Sam finished with 22 points, most of them coming in the second half. This was huge not only for the team, but for Mr. Young who had not quite been himself the past few games. Instead of settling for jumpers, Sam was assertive, seeking out contact and getting to the foul line.

The Bad:

Really, nothing from this game was too awful. The perimeter defense was a bit suspect, Andy Rautins got a few too many open looks. The shooting wasn’t spectacular either but that’s going to happen. We’re too happy to get nitpicky this week.

The Ugly:

The “you hit girls” chant the Zoo showered upon Eric Devendorf. It was tacky and, frankly, not very creative. If you want to be known as the best student section in the Big East, come up with something creative about Andy Rautins’ hair. Leave the stupidity for the “students” in Morgantown.


1/25 - def. West Virginia 79-67

The Good:

This game was even more impressive than the Cuse game. Any time Ryan Tiesi can get a trillion in Morgantown it is a good game. Sam Young and DeJuan Blair picked up right where they left off. We’re going to get Sam the game ball for his 22 point performance with 16 of those points coming in the second half.

The biggest story from this game was Pitt’s defensive tenacity. Pitt has always been known for their defense, but usually they do not force a lot of turnovers. Jamie Dixon’s teams have always been geared towards making you work 35 seconds only to force up an awful shot. Against the Mountaineers, Pitt had 11 steals and forced 13 turnovers. This is especially impressive since West Virginia is not a team that is prone to turnover problems.

The Bad:

Once again, hard to find too many faults with Pitt’s performance. Hell they even shot free throws well in this one. We’ll go with Pitt’s transition offense as the worst part of their performance today. The Panthers left at least six points on the board with their inability to finish fast breaks.

The Ugly:

Listen, it’s bad enough that Bob Huggins has a history of sideline temper tantrums and poor graduation rates. Would it kill him to dress up for the game?

A Look Ahead...

1/28 - @ Villanova 7pm ESPNU

The Panthers will hit the turnpike and head west Wednesday night where they will play the Villanova Wildcats in what will be the last college basketball game ever played at the Philadelphia Spectrum. Who knows how emotional a night this will be and whether or not it will effect the Wildcats. We have a hunch it will still be an easier environment than the Pavilion.

Here at TWATP, we have no idea how Villanova has been getting it done. They aren’t very big but don’t play at a very fast pace either. Corey Stokes is a great three point shooter but they aren’t exactly burning the nets at 36 percent from distance. The one thing that does stand out, they don’t do anything poorly which goes a long way in games against less talented teams. Pitt is not a less talented team; look for the Panthers win on the road.


1/31 - vs. Notre Dame 12 pm ESPN

After two consecutive road games, the Panthers will return home to face the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Since nothing else is really going on in Pittsburgh that weekend, expect a raucous crowd.

Notre Dame is led by All-American big man, Luke Harangody. This will be DeJuan Blair’s toughest test all season. The Irish also boast a fantastic perimeter offense, they are 15th nationally from beyond the arc. They also like to play quickly which tends to give Pitt some problems.

They also play zero defense. The Irish rank 13th in the conference in defensive efficiency, and they do not do a very good job of getting to the foul line. If DeJuan Blair can avoid the silly reach-in fouls, he should not be in too much foul trouble. Pitt is undoubtedly better with him on the court. Notre Dame is also a completely different team away from home. Look for Pitt to win again.


Race for the Coupons

At TWATP, we aren’t just arbitrarily giving away game balls. We keep track and the winner will be named player of the year. As a result of winning TWATP POY, the winner will probably receive coupons from Burger King.

The prize is not set in stone however, we are open to any suggestions anybody has for a POY prize. Please keep in mind we are on a budget and do not want to violate any NCAA rules.

Here is where we stand so far in the game ball standings.

Sam Young - 7

DeJuan Blair - 5

Jermaine Dixon - 3

Levance Fields - 2

Tyrell Biggs - 1

Brad Wanamaker - 1


Quote of the Week

“To be honest, some of us got snubbed, if you really want to look at it that way, from being those kind of recruits.”

- Levance Fields


Shameless Plug of the Week

First off a big TWATP thank you for everyone who came down to Buckley’s for marengue night. It was really cool for all of us to meet our fans. This week we watched Mathematically Alive, a documentary about New York Mets fans. You don’t have to be a Mets fan to enjoy this, the film is for anyone who has ever asked themselves “Why do I care this much?” when thinking about sports. One of us will end up writing a review on this later in the week. Until next week, Hail to Pitt.